Friday, May 11, 2007

Reviews of Wines of Spain

The following is a compilation of old reviews I have done on the wines of Spain.

1998 Remirez de Ganuza Rioja Reserva: This Spanish wine is a traditional Rioja. It is a highly rated wine (95 by Robert Parker) and a superb example of the best of Spain. It retails for around $65. Last evening, I opened a bottle of this Rioja, for a birthday celebration of a friend. All I can say is MMMMMMMMMM!" What a superb experience! So smooth on the palate, like liquid velvet. A long, satisfying finish. This was just an exceptional wine and everyone who tasted it absolutely loved it. It was well worth every penny I paid.

2001 Castillo de Almansa Reserva, Bodegas Piqueras, S.A.: This Spanish wine is from a town just north of Jumilla. It is a red blend of 70% Tempranillo and 30% Mourvedre. It retails for $12-15. This was an excellent wine, nice berries on the nose, and a complex taste with the distinctive Mouvedre flavor. The finish is medium in length and it is a very satisfying wine, either alone or with food. A definite Drink and Buy and another fine example of some of the good values that can be found in Spain, especially in the lesser known regions.

2002 Les Alcusses, Celler del Roure, Valencia: This wine is a blend of 40% Monastrell, 40% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a very nice easy drinking wine, with a berry nose, nice dark fruit on the palate and a bit of a smoky finish. Would go nice with some BBQ. Another good example of a Spanish value wine ($9). A recommended Drink & Buy.

2003 Taja Monastrell: With dinner this evening, I opened a bottle of 2003 Taja Monastrell, from the Jumilla region of Spain. For only $9, this reasonably priced wine is a good value. It is very smooth, with dark fruits and a jammy taste. It has a decently long finish and went well with pork. Another good value wine from Jumilla!

2003 Carchelo, Jumilla: This wine comes from the same area of Spain as the Panarroz. The Carchello is 50% Mourvedre, 20% Merlot, 10% Tempranillo, 10% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It cost $10. It has a nice light color with a tempting aroma. You get a mouthful of flavors, including some cherry, a bit of spice, maybe a little licorice. No one flavor dominates, instead the flavors mingle and tease. It went quite well with my minced, spiced lamb filled pastry. I would definitely recommend this as a Drink & Buy, another fine example of the values that can be found in Jumilla.

2004 La Vendimia, Palacios Remondo Rioja: An excellent example of Spanish Rioja ($15) that is a big, bold and chewy wine with lots of berry flavor.

2004 Barahonda Monastrell: This evening, I tried a bottle of this wine from the Yecla region of Spain, which is near the Jumilla region. On the nose there is dark cherry and a bit of earthiness. It is a full bodied wine, with cherry and dark berry on the palate. It is a more lush wine with a nice finish and some complexity. And at $12, I think it is another good value wine from Spain, a definite drink and buy. You might want to drink this wine with some food as it may be a bit strong for some alone.

Oroya: Thursday night, I bought a bottle of Oroya, a Spanish wine created especially for drinking with sushi. A Japanese wine maker, Yoko Sato, created the wine, a blend of 3 grapes. The blend is 60-percent Airen, 30-percent Macabeo, and 10-percent Muscat de Alexandria. The Airen gives a floral touch, the Macabeo a tartness and the Muscat a sweetness. The bottle also has the kanji letters for "sushi" written on it. Some of the reviews states this is a crisp, yet lush, white wine. The three grapes combine to give smooth lemon-lime and white grapefruit flavors, light floral and citrus aromas, and just a hint of viscosity. The off-dry, yet still crisp and mineral finish holds up well to the heat of wasabi. Airen is grown on huge tracts of land in central Spain, it normally does not make a fine wine. Macabeo is one of the three grapes used in sparkling cava wine. I found this to be a very mild wine with no strong tastes. It definitely would never overpower any type of food. It went decently with the sushi, and was nicely quenching after a taste of wasabi accented sushi. It is an inoffensive wine, but with no real uniqueness. For $10, it is an ok white wine. I am not sure though that it provides anything of merit to the sushi. I will try another bottle soon, and see if I feel the same way.

Villacezan "Seis Meses Tierra De Leon: This intriguing wine ($13) uses the Prieto Picudo grape, a very rare grape only grown on 12 estates in the world. This had a great nose and a very unusual but interesting taste. Nice fruit but with some tannins giving it more structure. Drink and Buy.

Liberalia Cero, Toro: This was the essence of a dark, smoky wine, like a fine syrah or cabernet. A complex, dark-fruit and well balanced wine. Definitely worth the price of $20. Drink and Buy.

2005 Laxas Albarino: A Spanish white ($16) reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc. It is crisp, fruity (without overpowering grapefruit) though it has a short finish.

204 Bodegas Bernabe Navarro Beryna, Alicante: The Alicante region is near Jumilla and they also make Monastrell based wines. I enjoyed this wine ($20) as it had the typical Monastrell characteristics, with nice fruit and a decently long finish. But, it was not an exceptional wine and $20 seems a bit too high, especially when you consider all the fantastic $10 Monastrell wines out of Spain, especially from Jumilla. So, for me, this is a Drink but Not Buy.

Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla: This wine (500 ml for $11) is a dry and mellow sherry, with a bit of a nutty flavor. As it is not heavy or overpowering, it is good as an apertif or with light foods. I enjoyed this sherry very much. Later searches found that Wine Spectator rated this a 90 and Robert Parker rated it an 89. For me, it would be a Drink & Buy. I think it might be a good sherry to introduce people as it is on the milder side.

2004 Tomas Cuisine "El Vilosell", Costers del Segre: A blend ($14) of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, and Merlot. An intriguing blend with a definite Spanish flair. Good fruit flavors that do not overwhelm. From an up and coming area of Spain.

2005 De Vega Sindoa El Chaparral, Navarra: This wine ($12) is a cuvee of old vine Grenache. I very much enjoyed this wine. It was a relatively light wine without a lot of tannins. It had some nice fruit flavors, almost cranberry rather than cherry. It was a smooth wine, more subtle than many New World wines. An interesting wine from a small region of Spain. Drink and Buy, especially at the price.

2005 Dona Rosa Albarino, Rias Baixas: This is a white wine ($18), made from the famed Albarino varietal. It is a light, fruity wine that is not too sweet. It has a certain crispness and is very easy drinking. It does not have an oaky flavor. It went well with seafood and would as well be an excellent wine for the summer. It may be a bit pricey for those who are not fans of white wine, but if you do enjoy a good white then this is definitely something to try. Drink and Buy.

2004 Senorio de Barahonda Bellum Providencia: This is a Spanish wine ($18) from the Yecla region, near Jumilla. It is made of 100& old vine Monastrell. I previously reviewed another Barahonda Monastrell which I enjoyed very much. This is a higher quality wine from that same winery. This wine was very impressive, with a myriad of tastes on my palate, with lots of cherry and dark berry fruits, plus some smoke and spice. There is a very long finish as well. It is smooth, easy-drinking but nicely complex. A superb wine, especially at this price point. Definite drink and buy.

2004 El Nido Clio: This is a Spanish wine, from the Jumilla region, which is 70% Monastrell and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It normally sells for around $55. I had been seeking this wine for while, as I wanted to taste a high end Monastrell as I am a big fan of that varietal. I finally found it and bought a bottle to try. (I later found some more, at a significantly cheaper price and bought a few more.) I should also note that the Wine Advocate recently rated this wine a 97. So, what did the Real World Winers think? As soon as I uncorked the wine, a flood of fruity aromas wafted through the air. It had an incredible nose of lush fruits, like blueberry and blackberry. And the taste was WOW! It began with a touch of sweetness, the ripe berries and ended with lots of spice. It was a very smooth and easy drinking wine, but with a lot of complexity. There was so much going on in my mouth but it all meshed well together. This is a wine that should greatly please almost anyone. It was just superb. Despite its usual price of about $55, all of the Winers last night would Drink and Buy this wine. Thus, this wine has been elevated to our Highly Recommended list and is probably the most expensive wine on that list. If you want to splurge, definitely seek this one out.

Bodegas Pintia Toro 2002: It was a decent wine ($50) though a bit austere and dry. It definitely needed to be drank with some substantial meat. It was not a wine I really favored.

Bodegas Alion Ribero del Duero 2000: This wine ($63) is 100% tempranillo. This was a superb wine with lots of fruit without being over the top. It had a nice balance of tannins with lots of complexity on the palate and a long finish. Liquid velvet. A definite Drink & Buy even for the price.

Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 Ano 2000 and the 2001: I enjoyed the 2000 ($140) as it was more alive on the tongue, and did not need any additional aging to mellow it. It was silky smooth, with a long finish, and just a superb balance of everything. The 2001 was a bit harsher, and probably needs more time to age. Both of these wines are blends, with primarily tempranillo but also some Malbec and Merlot.

Vega Sicilia Unico Ribero del Duero 1994 & 1995: These are very expensive wines. These were both just phenomenal wines and the small tastes did them no justice. They are blends as well, though they have some Cabernet in them. Wine does not get much better than these examples. Sadly, their price does make them out of reach for most of us, so we must treasure tastings such as these.

2005 Luzon, Jumilla: This is a Monastrell based blend, from the same region as Panarroz. It was a superb wine, with a firm structure, some nice spice, a good finish, and a fine balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity. Highly recommended!!!

2003 Les Terasses: This is a more expensive wine ($33) but most wines from the Priorat region of Spain are pricey. But then again you are often getting high quality wines. This is a superb red wine, smooth, with that distinctive Spanish taste. It is a blend with a lot of Grenache and definitely has much complexity. If you are a fan of Spanish wines, this is definitely worth buying. Drink and Buy.

2004 Bodegas Hnos Perez Pascuses "Vina Pedrosa", Ribera Del Deuro: This wine ($19) was an excellent Spanish wine, rich, spicy and very flavorful. A definite Drink and Buy.

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